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October 10, 2013 7:31 am

Powell Bank of the West branch to close in 2014

Written by CJ Baker

Following an “extensive review of branch usage trends,” Bank of the West brass have decided to close the bank’s Powell branch.

The closure takes effect Jan. 17, 2014. At that time, Powell customers’ accounts will be transferred to Bank of the West’s Cody branch, said Debra Jack, a bank spokeswoman at its San Francisco headquarters.

“We want to make this transition as seamless as possible,” Jack said in an email. “Customer account numbers will stay the same, and customers can continue to use their current checks and deposit slips as well as their current ATM, debit and credit cards.”

Jack said there will also be no changes to customers’ digital services, including online bill pay and mobile banking. She said Bank of the West’s network of branches continues to play a pivotal role for customers, but “at the same time, more and more customers are banking online and on-the-go.”

Asked whether employees would be laid off as a result of the Powell branch’s closure, Jack said “we are supporting employees during this period of change and will assist them where possible in finding other opportunities within the bank.”

Powell branch manager Chris Cox declined comment on the pending closure.

The bank — located on the corner of Absaroka and Second streets — was first established in 1963 as American National Bank of Powell. It later became a Key Bank of Wyoming branch, then a branch of Community First Bank before being acquired by Bank of the West in December 2004.

“We have enjoyed being members of the Powell community and thank our customers for their business,” Jack said. “We look forward to continuing to be their banking partner moving forward.”

As of the first quarter of this year, Bank of the West had 10,140 employees and 615 retail locations in the western and midwestern United States. The bank has branches in 22 Wyoming communities, including a location in Meeteetse that Jack said will remain open.

4 comments

  • Comment Link October 10, 2013 3:22 pm posted by Dewey

    I wonder if many people in Powell realize that Bank of the West is a wholly owned subsidiary of the giant Banque Nationale Paribas of Paris France.

    The Bank of the West chain had to be acquired by Paribas using a fluke in the banking laws of Hawaii, sort of an end run around federal holding company regulations in the USA. So for ten years, your little corner bank has been a front for the French, by way of California and Hawaii.

    I bring this up to make a point: NONE of our local Cody-Powell banks are owned locally these days. You have to go to Big Horn County to find one of those endangered species, the wholly hometown bank.

    I have a chart in my computer that shows bank mergers and acquisitions since the Glass-Steagall Act was repealed in 2000 and replaced with the heinous Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act. The 40 top banks in the US eventually became four. Those four giants plus some big offshore banks like Paribas and HSBC et al began gobbling up smaller bank chains.

    Glass-Steagall was passed during the Great Depression to rein in out of control Wall Street . It explicitly kept divergent financial services from consolidating under one roof. The G-L-B Act did a complete reversal of that , and led in a straight line as quickly as possible to the great Financial Meltdown of 2008. Wham! The difference this tijme around was the globalization of banking...one mouse click moves money from Powell to New York, to Switzerland, to Hong Kong quicker than it took you to read this sentence.

    The Powell and Cody Banks of the West were riding on that consolidation trainwreck. Nearly every bank around here has been gobbled up by a bigger bank or holding company , which of course means a goodly portion of your Powell sugar beet proceeds and Cody's rodeo ticket haul end up far far away.

    Here's the paper trail on Bank of the West:
    Bank of the West began as Farmers National Gold Bank of San Jose, California, in 1874. When all bank notes became convertible to gold or silver in 1880, the bank converted from a gold national bank and changed its name to the First National Bank of San Jose, California.

    In 1970, Banque Nationale de Paris (BNP) established the French Bank of California. Later that decade, First National Bank of San Jose changed its name to Bank of the West.[1] In 1979, BNP bought Bank of the West and merged in the French Bank of California.

    Throughout the 1980s and 1990s, Bank of the West bought several other banks and branches. In 1987, Bank of the West bought Bank of Los Gatos.[Note 1] This was followed by the 1990 purchase of Central Banking Systems; the 1991 purchase of 30 branches in northern California from failed Imperial Savings and Loan; the 1992 purchase of Atlantic Financial Federal Savings Bank from the Resolution Trust Corporation; the 1993 purchase of 15 branches in northern California from Citibank; the 1995 purchase of NorthBay Savings Bank, headquartered in Petaluma, California; and the 1997 purchase of branches from Bank of America and Coast Federal Bank.

    In 1995, First Hawaiian Bank established Pacific One Bank to hold 30 branches in Washington, Oregon, and Idaho that it acquired from West One Bank when that bank was acquired by U.S. Bancorp and had to divest certain assets, due to the number of preexisting branches of U.S. Bank in the region. Three years later, in 1998, BNP and First Hawaiian Inc., the parent of First Hawaiian Bank and Pacific One Bank, created a company under the BancWest Bancorp name to hold Bank of the West and First Hawaiian Bank, with Bank of the West absorbing Pacific One. The creation of BancWest Bancorp caused the now-called BNP Paribas’ (BNPP) ownership of the holding company to fall to 45%. BNPP also agreed not to increase its ownership of the bank holding company before November 2001.
    n 1999, Bank of the West bought Sierra West Bancorp. This transaction temporarily diluted BNPP’s ownership of the holding company to 42%.
    Bank of the West footprint

    In 2001, as part of the regulatory approval process with Wells Fargo Banks's acquisition of First Security Corp., Bank of the West acquired 23 First Security branches in New Mexico and 7 First Security branches in Nevada to avoid anti-trust issues with overlapping Wells Fargo operations. Also in 2001, First Hawaiian Bank bought Union Bank of California’s branches in Guam and Saipan. First Hawaiian had established its first branch in Guam in 1970 and its first branch in Saipan in 1997. (Union Bank of California had established its branch in Guam in 1974.) In May 2001, the independent directors of BancWest Bancorp established a special committee that then unanimously voted to accept BNP’s offer to acquire the remaining 55% of BancWest Bancorp, making the holding company a wholly owned subsidiary of BNP. The year 2001 concluded with the December purchase by Bank of the West of United California Bank from UFJ Bank, of Japan.

    In March 2004, Bank of the West announced the purchase of Community First Bankshares, a bank holding company that operated Community First National Bank, headquartered in Fargo, North Dakota, which had 155 offices in 12 states: Arizona, California, Colorado, Iowa, Minnesota, Nebraska, New Mexico, North Dakota, South Dakota, Utah, Wisconsin, and Wyoming.

    Wells Fargo ? Same kind of story . Powell First National ? Welcome to Kalispell. US Bank---that's Cincinnatti and Minneapolis. Money is more mythical than tangible these days. It's made up.

    The bottom line : Shop local first . Pay cash when you can. Think real hard about savings and loans and credit unions while you do.

  • Comment Link October 11, 2013 7:51 am posted by Disgusted taxpayer

    Dewey,your last sentence says it all.Especially about credit unions.If sane folks have any sense they will have nothing to do with any bank,and shop local,tell that to the people you see in Billings parking lots hoarding up on loads of building materials and other goods.I have seen Powell locals coming back through Bridger over the years with trailer loads of goods they could have bought in Powell,or Cody.So hypocrisy has no limits in Park County. And where is all the hoopla about fiber optics and leaky swimming pools in Powell anymore?

  • Comment Link October 16, 2013 5:57 am posted by CJR

    Park Co. Wyoming has sure turned into "BankGate"----you had the bank in Powell with the Feds ready to nail the doors shut (now it's a Montana chartered bank), the SBA scandal in Cody and the mega bank takeover of Shoshone. I think the only locally controlled banks are the Bank of Powell (owned by Red Lodge folks so, kinda local), Bighorn Fed and Security State Bank in Basin.

    Banking in Park Co. has basically turned into a joke

  • Comment Link January 24, 2014 1:13 am posted by Johnny Depp

    Lolz. They closed

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